REVIEW: ‘Wine Country’ is a Well-Meaning Comedy That Does Not Deliver

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Wine Country

Wine Country is a Netflix Original comedy movie directed by and starring Amy Poehler. The movie follows a group of women as they celebrate their friend’s 50th birthday. There is workaholic Catherine (Ana Gasteyer), post-op Val (Paula Pell), homebody Jenny (Emily Spivey), weary mom Naomi (Maya Rudolph) and sometimes bossy but means well Abby (Amy Poehler), and their friend Rebecca (Rachel Dratch), the birthday girl.

Abby is the one planning a scenic Napa getaway for the friends’ reunion. It has been a while since all of the ladies were all together and all of them are struggling with where they are in their lives and how their old friendships fit in. As the wine and punchlines begin to flow, each of the midlife crises only gets worse as the women begin questioning their friendships and their futures.

From the start, almost everyone the women encounter from Tammy (Tina Fey,) the owner of the house they are renting, to Rebecca’s husband strongly suggest the women will end up fighting during the vacation. Tammy goes so far as to say “Whatever gets said is probably what the person has always felt and the alcohol just let it out” prior to leaving the women after giving them a tour of the house.

Fey has always taken on bizarre characters but despite that, her acting as Tammy feels half-hazard. Honestly, it’s as if she is just being Tina Fey in an American Express commercial and less like a professional actress and comedian that she is. The strong foreshadowing used throughout Wine Country is unnecessary at a lot of points and also creates some strange and awkward moments that don’t quite flow with the movie.

Despite Wine Country starting with the mantra, “Age is just a number,” the movie does everything in its power to remind you these ladies are old. From them not understanding who a modern artist is to their cute inside joke of “things we say now.” While some of it is endearing as growing old is an incredibly human experience, a lot of it is unfortunately forced.

It is well established Rebecca is turning 50 so a lot of this exposition around their ages could have been shown as opposed to said over and over again. The same joke about not knowing who Childish Gambino or A$AP Rocky are stopped being funny when it gets repeated in the same formula multiple times.

The ongoing joke of “things we say now,” rubbed me the wrong way multiple times as a disabled woman living with multiple chronic illnesses. The women use this phrase to denote these are not things they used to say and instead are now saying them because they are older and because they in a midlife crisis of sorts. Yet, most of the time, it is said when speaking about their health. Early on, Abby mentions she can’t sleep under the stars because she can’t plug in her CPAC machine. Later on, while Catherine is trying to get the ladies to do Molly, Rebecca brings up she doesn’t know how that will react with her current medication.

Although I am not 50-years-old, I say those types of things all the time, as do many people living with chronic illnesses and/or are disabled. This moment had the opportunity to be empowering and show a connection but instead, it just comes off as ignorant.

Wine Country

The tension foreshadowed about fighting between the women is there but never properly established enough to make the final boiling point feel earned. Everything that happens can mostly be categorized as microaggressions between the women at best. The strong foreshadowing used throughout Wine Country is unnecessary at a lot of points and also creates some strange and awkward moments that don’t quite flow with the movie. For example, the main crux of this is a tarot card reading that goes terribly wrong for the ladies. Lady Sunshine (Cherry Jones) offers the women a bleak outlook on their weekend and lives in general and predicts all of their catfights. However, since we know little about their individual histories and their relationships with each other the comedy plays off more like the start of a horror movie. Unfortunately, as an audience member, you just aren’t attached to these characters or their struggles despite the extremely universal theme of growing old and life’s inevitable change as you do.

Multiple times throughout the movie the women comment on their dislike of young people. It is a bizarre statement considering the hip style they all dress in which is not typical of the average 50-year-old woman in America and the frequent times, Rebecca in particular, comments on how young their souls are. The women never come off as endearing or likable. They mostly just come off as rude and incredibly selfish.

Overall, Wine Country is a decent look at female friendship but it has a lot of flaws. All of the pay off is rushed and more time is spent on the women fighting than making up. Furthermore, the fact that it is never truly established why things went so wrong makes none of it feel authentic.

Wine Country is now streaming on Netflix.

Wine Country
  • 5/10
    Wine Country - 5/10
5/10

TL;DR

Overall, Wine Country is a decent look at female friendship but it has a lot of flaws. All of the pay off is rushed and more time is spent on the women fighting than making up. Furthermore, the fact that it is never truly established why things went so wrong makes none of it feel authentic.

1 Comment on “REVIEW: ‘Wine Country’ is a Well-Meaning Comedy That Does Not Deliver”

Comments are closed.